Businesses

Ask Slashdot: What Are Some Developer Secrets That Could Sink Your Business? 236

snydeq writes: In today's tech world, the developer is king -- and we know it. But if you're letting us reign over your app dev strategy, you might be in for some surprises, thanks to what we aren't saying, writes an anonymous developer in a roundup of developer secrets that could sink the business. "The truth is, we developers aren't always straight with you. We have a few secrets we like to keep for ourselves. The fact that we don't tell you everything is understandable. You're the boss, after all. Do you tell your boss everything? If you're the CEO, do you loop in the board on every decision? So don't be so surprised when we do it." What possible damaging programming dirt are you keeping the lid on? Some of the points the developer mentions in his/her report include: "Your technical debt is a lot bigger than you think," "We're infatuated with our own code," and "We'd rather build than maintain." If you can think of any others not mentioned in the report, we're all ears! This may be a good time to check the "Post Anonymously" box before you submit your comment.
Programming

TechCrunch Urges Developers: Replace C Code With Rust (techcrunch.com) 483

Software engineer and TechCrunch columnist Jon Evans writes that the C programming language "gives its users far too much artillery with which to shoot their feet off" and is "no longer suitable for the world which C has built." An anonymous reader shared Evans' post: Copious experience has taught us all, the hard way, that it is very difficult, verging on "basically impossible," to write extensive amounts of C code that is not riddled with security holes. As I wrote two years ago, in my first Death To C piece... "Buffer overflows and dangling pointers lead to catastrophic security holes, again and again and again, just like yesteryear, just like all the years of yore. We cannot afford its gargantuan, gaping security blind spots any more. It's long past time to retire and replace it with another language.

"The trouble is, most modern languages don't even try to replace C... They're not good at the thing C does best: getting down to the bare metal and working at mach speed." Today I am seriously suggesting that when engineers refactor existing C code, especially parsers and other input handlers, they replace it -- slowly, bit by bit -- with Rust... we are only going to dig ourselves out of our giant collective security hole iteratively, one shovelful of better code and better tooling at a time."

He also suggests other fixes -- like using a language-theoretic approach which conceptualizes valid inputs as their own formal language, and formal verification of the correctness of algorithms. But he still insists that "C has become a monster" -- and that we must start replacing it with Rust.
Programming

Open Source Contributions More Important Than Tabs Vs Spaces For Salary (opensource.com) 160

Jason Baker, a Red Hat data analyst, doesn't believe developers who use spaces make more money than those who use tabs. An anonymous reader quotes Baker's blog post: After reading the study one data scientist, Evelina Gabasova, performed some additional analysis and came to a slightly different conclusion, which feels a little more precise: "Environments where people use Git and contribute to open source are more associated both with higher salaries and spaces, rather than with tabs." In other words, if you're at a company where you're using version control and committing open source code upstream, you're statistically a little more likely to be a space-user and a higher wage-earner.
Even across all experience levels, contributing to open source still correlates to higher salaries, Gabasova concludes. "My theory is that when diverse people are working on open source projects together without enforced coding style, the possible formatting mess is nudging people towards using spaces simply because the code is consistent for everyone.

"This is just one of the possible theories, I didn't look to see if possibly language communities that use predominantly spaces (like Python or Ruby) are more active in open source."
Government

US Government Crackdown Threatens Kaspersky's American Dream (reuters.com) 139

Eugene Kaspersky, the CEO of the Russian cybersecurity software firm that bears his name, had a big American dream. From a report: He wanted his company to go beyond selling anti-virus software to consumers and small businesses and become a major vendor to the U.S. government -- one of the world's biggest buyers of cybersecurity tools. Kaspersky set up a U.S. subsidiary, KGSS, in Arlington, Virginia that would be focused on winning that business. He sponsored flashy conferences with high-profile speakers --including Michael Flynn, who was briefly President Donald Trump's national security adviser -- sought to join U.S. trade groups and even underwrote programming on National Public Radio. All of this was done to burnish Kaspersky's image and help it become an accepted vendor for the U.S. government despite its Russian roots, according to people familiar with the strategy. But Eugene Kaspersky was never able to overcome lingering suspicions among U.S. intelligence officials that he and his company were, or could become, pawns of Russia's spy agencies. Kaspersky "has never helped, nor will help, any government in the world with its cyberespionage efforts," the company said. Kaspersky's American ambitions were further eroded by the sharp deterioration in U.S.-Russia relations following Russia's invasion of Crimea in 2014, and later when U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Russia had hacked the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Programming

Apple's Pitch To Indian Developers: Think Local, Stay Up To Date, and Aim For Design Awards (ndtv.com) 35

An anonymous reader shares an article: With just under half-a-million registered Apple developers in the country, India is among the most active markets when it comes to making apps for Apple's platforms, but the iPhone-maker took its time before getting involved with the local ecosystem in a meaningful way. Things started to change earlier this year, when Apple setup App Accelerator - a first-of-its-kind initiative, in namma Bengaluru, India earlier this year. More than three months later, the company's efforts are starting to shape up. Gadgets 360 spoke to many developers who have signed up for the App Accelerator, and they are pleased with how things are going so far. Registration to the App Accelerator - which is capable of hosting 500 developers per week - as well as attending the sessions, is free and open to everyone. At the App Accelerator sessions, which range between two to four hours, "evangelists" from the company are getting developers up to speed with the newest technologies, and guiding them to improve their apps and make the best out of the available resources. Developers told Gadgets 360 they get to understand what new technologies Apple specifically recommends they target, with SiriKit being one such example. That's a big and helpful change, developers say, because Indian companies often take long time in leveraging new features Apple introduces. The most crucial advice that developers have walked out of the campus with, they tell Gadgets 360, has been to reconsider their target audience. The evangelists have told them to make apps that serve to the needs of the local market, instead of focusing their energies in chasing the Western audience.
Businesses

Netflix Shows Are All Worldwide Hits -- Until They're Not (bloomberg.com) 193

An anonymous reader shares a report: On a conference call last October, Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos described the hip-hop drama "The Get Down" as a success, like the booming streaming service's other popular shows. Eight months and 11 episodes later, "The Get Down" is history, a flop after one season on the world's largest paid video service. The sci-fi thriller "Sense8," another of the company's lavish productions, was scrapped after two seasons. The back-to-back cancellations caught Hollywood by surprise. Netflix has defied convention by offering no inkling of how many people watch its shows and claiming just about everything is a hit. That's vexed competitors worried about Netflix's growing customer base and influence in Hollywood. The streaming company will spend more than $6 billion on programming this year, a good chunk of that on about 1,000 hours of original shows. Cancellations are common for all TV networks -- even for Netflix, which has wrapped up most of its first crop of original shows. Without the need to attract advertisers, the company is shielded from the weekly audience ratings that determine the fate of most dramas and sitcoms. "One of the great things about Netflix is we don't have to release ratings," Chief Executive Officer Reed Hastings said in an interview this week on CNBC. "Each show gets to have its own audience because it is very personalized." That's great for Netflix and its 100 million customers, who pay up to $12 a month for the service. Without pressure to deliver weekly ratings, the company can give shows time to develop a following. "House of Cards," the thriller starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright, just started its fifth season. It's not so great for competitors -- or producers who must grope for ways to measure the success of a given program and wonder if they're getting paid enough by the streaming service. With no data, they must rely on the positive remarks Netflix executives make for all their shows.
Education

Early 'Coding School' Dev Bootcamp Is Shutting Down (axios.com) 106

Dev Bootcamp, the original "coding bootcamp," is shutting down, the company announced on Wednesday. The company's last cohort of students, who begin the program next week, will graduate in December and receive job search help before the school permanently shuts down. From a report: Why it matters: Early coding bootcamps like Dev Bootcamp launched a boom in alternative education for programing skills, with some of the school's own alumni going on to found their own successful programs, like App Academy. Ultimately, the coding bootcamp craze highlighted not only the need to rethink computer science and programming education in traditional colleges, but also the increasing demand for workers with these technical skills.
Programming

Ask Slashdot: How Do You Read Code? 337

New submitter Gornkleschnitzer writes: The majority of humans read silently by rendering a simulation of the printed words as if they were being spoken. By reading that sentence, chances are you're now stuck being conscious of this, too. You're welcome.

As a programmer (and a reader of fanfiction), plenty of things I read are not valid English syntax. When I find myself reviewing class definitions, for loops, and #define macros, I rely on some interesting if inconsistent mental pronunciation rules. For instance, int i = 0; comes out as "int i equals zero," but if(i == 0) sometimes comes out as either "if i is zero" or "if i equals equals zero." The loop for(size_t i = 0; i < itemList.size(); ++i) generally translates to "for size T i equals zero, i less than item list dot size, plus-plus i." I seem to drop C++ insertion/extraction operators entirely in favor of a brief comma-like pause, with cout << str << endl; sounding like "kowt, stur, endel."

What are your code-reading quirks?
Programming

We Need To Reboot the Culture of View Source (wired.com) 305

theodp writes: Back in ye olde days of the information superhighway," begins Clive Thompson in It's Time to Make Code More Tinker-Friendly, "curious newbies had an easy way to see how websites worked: View Source." But no more. "Websites have evolved into complex, full-featured apps," laments Thompson. "Click View Source on Google.com and behold the slurry of incomprehensible Javascript. This increasingly worries old-guard coders. If the web no longer has a simple on-ramp, it could easily discourage curious amateurs." What the world needs now, Thompson argues, are "new tools that let everyone see, understand, and remix today's web. We need, in other words, to reboot the culture of View Source." Thompson cites Fog Creek Software's Glitch, Chris Coyier's CodePen, and Google's TensorFlow Playground as examples of efforts that embrace the spirit of View Source and help people recombine code in useful ways. Any other suggestions?
AI

Amazon's Alexa Passes 15,000 skills, Up From 10,000 in February (techcrunch.com) 90

As more and more companies get into the smart speaker game, a new report shows just how much ground they have to make up to catch Amazon's digital assistant, Alexa. From a report: Amazon's Alexa voice platform has now passed 15,000 skills -- the voice-powered apps that run on devices like the Echo speaker, Echo Dot, newer Echo Show and others. The figure is up from the 10,000 skills Amazon officially announced back in February, which had then represented a 3x increase from September. The new 15,000 figure was first reported via third-party analysis from Voicebot, and Amazon has since confirmed the figure. According to Voicebot, which only analyzed skills in the U.S., the milestone was reached for the first time on June 30, 2017. During the month of June, new skill introductions increased by 23 percent, up from the less than 10 percent growth that was seen in each of the prior three months.
AT&T

Forced Arbitration Isn't 'Forced' Because No One Has To Buy Service, Says AT&T (arstechnica.com) 342

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: AT&T is denying that its contracts include "forced arbitration" clauses, even though customers must agree to the clauses in order to obtain Internet or TV service. "At the outset, no AT&T customer is ever 'forced' to agree to arbitration," AT&T Executive VP Tim McKone wrote in a letter to U.S. senators. "Customers accept their contracts with AT&T freely and voluntarily; no one 'forces' them to obtain AT&T wireless service, DirecTV programming, or other products and services." AT&T was responding to concerns raised by Sens. Al Franken (D-Minn.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), and Edward Markey (D-Mass.), who previously alleged that AT&T's use of forced arbitration clauses has helped the company charge higher prices than the ones it advertises to customers. While AT&T is correct that no one is forced to sign up for AT&T service, there are numerous areas of the country where AT&T is the only viable option for wired home Internet service. Even in wireless, where there's more competition, AT&T rivals Verizon and Sprint use mandatory arbitration clauses, so signing up with another carrier won't necessarily let customers avoid arbitration. One exception is T-Mobile, which offers a way to opt out of arbitration. The terms of service for AT&T Internet and DirecTV require customers to "agree to arbitrate all disputes and claims" against AT&T. Class actions and trials by jury are prohibited, although individual cases in small claims courts are allowed. AT&T doesn't offer any way to opt out of the arbitration/small claims provision, so the only other option is not buying service from AT&T.
Education

PBS Bets $3 Million That Monkeys Are Better CS Preschool Teachers Than Rabbits (edsurge.com) 82

theodp writes: EdSurge reports that a new PBS show will teach preschoolers how to think like computers. Marisa Wolsky, an executive producer at WGBH Boston, believes television can be a way to teach Computational Thinking. She is in the first stages of creating an animated television show called Monkeying Around [$3,000,000 NSF award] that uses four monkeys to teach the subject. Why monkeys? EdSurge explains, "Initially, Wolsky said her team wanted to use rabbits to teach the kids, but after realizing the animal would need to use its hands, they decided to go with monkeys [Rabbits historically enjoyed success teaching the 3 R's]." In a press release announcing the new pre-K show, WGBH cited "a great deal of national interest in computer science and coding," adding that "it is never too early to start." WGBH is not the only PBS station that's bullish on CS. According to an NSF Award Abstract, "Twin Cities PBS (TPT), the National Girls Collaborative (NGC) and [tech-bankrolled] Code.org will lead Code: SciGirls! Media to Engage Girls in Computing Pathways, a three-year [$2.63 million] project designed to engage 8-13 year-old girls in coding through transmedia programming which inspires and prepares them for future computer science studies and career paths [...] Drawing on narrative transportation theory and character identification theory, TPT will commission two exploratory knowledge-building studies to investigate: To what extent and how do the narrative formats of the Code: SciGirls! online media affect girls' interest, beliefs, and behavioral intent towards coding and code-related careers?" And Code Trip, a PBS series touted by Microsoft that aired in 2016 [$200,000 NSF award], explored computer science opportunities for young people by, as Microsoft explained, following "three students traveling around the country to speak with leaders including Elizabeth Holmes, founder of Theranos, and Hadi Partovi, entrepreneur and cofounder of Code.org."
Programming

New Research Explodes Myths About Ada Lovelace (ox.ac.uk) 107

Two mathematics historians investigated the Lovelace-Byron family archives (which are available online) to confirm the early mathematical prowess of Ada Lovelace for two scholarly journals. Slashdot reader bugs2squash shares a post from the Oxford Mathematical Institute: The work challenges widespread claims that Lovelace's mathematical abilities were more "poetical" than practical, or indeed that her knowledge was so limited that Babbage himself was likely to have been the author of the paper that bears her name. The authors pinpoint Lovelace's keen eye for detail, fascination with big questions, and flair for deep insights, which enabled her to challenge some deep assumptions in her teacher's work. They suggest that her ambition, in time, to do significant mathematical research was entirely credible, though sadly curtailed by her ill-health and early death.
Ada Lovelace died in London at age 36.
Ruby

Is Ruby's Decline In Popularity Permanent? (computerworld.com.au) 253

An anonymous reader quotes Computerworld: Ruby has had a reputation as a user-friendly language for building web applications. But its slippage in this month's RedMonk Programming Language Rankings has raised questions about where exactly the language stands among developers these days. The twice-yearly RedMonk index ranked Ruby at eighth, the lowest position ever for the language. "Swift and now Kotlin are the obvious choices for native mobile development. Go, Rust, and others are clearer modern choices for infrastructure," said RedMonk analyst Stephen O'Grady. "The web, meanwhile, where Ruby really made its mark with Rails, is now an aggressively competitive and crowded field." Although O'Grady noted that Ruby remains "tremendously popular," participants on sites such as Hacker News and Quora have increasingly questioned whether Ruby is dying. In the Redmonk rankings, Ruby peaked at fourth place in 2013, reinforcing the perception it is in decline, if a slow one.
Open Source

GitHub Urges Companies To Participate In 'Open Source Fridays' (opensourcefriday.com) 71

An anonymous reader quotes VentureBeat: GitHub wants to help more people become open source contributors with a new initiative called Open Source Friday. As the name implies, the program encourages companies to set aside time at the end of the week for their employees to work on open source projects. It's designed to bolster the ranks of open source contributors at a time when many businesses rely on freely available projects for mission-critical applications. Open Source Friday isn't just about getting businesses to offer their employees' time as a form of charity, it's also a way to improve key business infrastructure, according to Mike McQuaid, a senior software engineer at GitHub...

McQuaid hopes that carving out employees' time on Fridays could help provide additional structure and incentive to participate in the ecosystem... Users don't need to be engineers in order to take part, either. While code contribution is important to the success of a project, creating and maintaining documentation is also key.

OpenSourceFriday.com includes tips for interested contributors, as well as a page suggesting to employers that they could see benefits like developers learning to code faster, better, and more transparently.
Programming

Raspberry Pi Wins UK's Top Engineering Award (bbc.com) 54

An anonymous reader shares a BBC report: The team behind the device was awarded the Royal Academy of Engineering's MacRobert Prize at a ceremony in London last night. The tiny computer launched in 2012. Its designers hoped to introduce children to coding and had modest ambitions. They beat two other finalists, cyber-security company Darktrace and radiotherapy pioneers Vision RT, to win the prize. Previous winners of the innovation award, which has been run since 1969, include the creators of the CT (computerised tomography) scanner; the designers of the Severn Bridge; and the team at Microsoft in Cambridge that developed the Kinect motion sensor.
Education

How Silicon Valley Pushed Coding Into American Classrooms 132

theodp writes: Noting that Apple CEO Tim Cook's advice for President Trump at last week's White House gathering of the Tech Titans was that "coding should be a requirement in every public school," the New York Times examines How Silicon Valley Pushed Coding Into American Classrooms (Warning: source may be paywalled). "The Apple chief's education mandate was just the latest tech company push for coding courses in schools," writes Natasha Singer. "But even without Mr. Trump's support, Silicon Valley is already advancing that agenda -- thanks largely to the marketing prowess of Code.org, an industry-backed nonprofit group." Singer continues: "In a few short years, Code.org has raised more than $60 million from Microsoft, Facebook, Google and Salesforce, along with individual tech executives and foundations. It has helped to persuade two dozen states to change their education policies and laws, Mr. Hadi Partovi, co-founder of Code.org, said, while creating free introductory coding lessons, called Hour of Code, which more than 100 million students worldwide have tried. Along the way, Code.org has emerged as a new prototype for Silicon Valley education reform: a social-media-savvy entity that pushes for education policy changes, develops curriculums, offers online coding lessons and trains teachers -- touching nearly every facet of the education supply chain. The rise of Code.org coincides with a larger tech-industry push to remake American primary and secondary schools with computers and learning apps, a market estimated to reach $21 billion by 2020." Singer also mentions Apple's work to spread computer science in schools. The company launched a free app last year called Swift Playgrounds to teach basic coding in Swift, as well as a yearlong curriculum for high schools and community colleges to teach app design in Swift.
Education

Why So Many Top Hackers Come From Russia (krebsonsecurity.com) 263

Long-time Slashdot reader tsu doh nimh writes: Brian Krebs has an interesting piece this week on one reason that so many talented hackers (malicious and benign) seem to come from Russia and the former Soviet States: It's the education, stupid. Krebs's report doesn't look at the socioeconomic reasons, but instead compares how the U.S. and Russia educate students from K-12 in subjects which lend themselves to a mastery in coding and computers -- most notably computer science. The story shows that the Russians have for the past 30 years been teaching kids about computer science and then testing them on it starting in elementary school and through high school. The piece also looks at how kids in the U.S. vs. Russia are tested on what they are supposed to have learned.
Fossbytes also reports that Russia claimed the top spot in this year's Computer Programming Olympics -- their fourth win in six years -- adding that "the top 9 positions out of 14 were occupied by Russian or Chinese schools." The only two U.S. schools in the top 20 were the University of Central Florida (#13) and MIT (#20).
Cloud

Should Your Company Switch To Microservices? (cio.com) 118

Walmart Canada claims that it was microservices that allowed them to replace hardware with virtual servers, reducing costs by somewhere between 20 and 50 percent. Now Slashdot reader snydeq shares an article by a senior systems automation engineer arguing that a microservices approach "offers increased modularity, making applications easier to develop, test, deploy, and, more importantly, change and maintain."

The article touts things like cost savings and flexibility for multiple device types, suggesting microservices offer increased resilience and improved scalabiity (not to mention easier debugging and a faster time to market with an incremental development model). But it also warns that organizations need the resources to deploy the new microservices quicky (and the necessary server) -- along with the ability to test and monitor them for database errors, network latency, caching issues and ongoing availability. "You must embrace devops culture," argues the article, adding that "designing for failure is essential... In a traditional setting, developers are focused on features and functionalities, and the operations team is on the hook for production challenges. In devops, everyone is responsible for service provisioning -- and failure."

The original submission ends with a question for Slashdot reader. "What cautions do you have to offer for folks considering tapping microservices for their next application?"
Youtube

YouTube Claims 1.5 Billion Monthly Users (cnbc.com) 65

An anonymous reader shares a report: Google's YouTube unit says it now reaches 1.5 billion viewers every month -- and its users watch more than an hour of mobile videos per day -- as it expands its video programming to sell more digital ads. YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki also wrote that YouTube Red, the company's foray into original videos, has launched 37 series that have generated "nearly a quarter billion views." YouTube Red has 12 new projects in the works, she said.

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